Otis Harriel




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Who I am

I began my obsession and love for the violin when I first heard Vivaldi around the age of six. Every year around Christmas time my parents would put on a CD full of Vivaldi concerti. Much to their delight and  annoyance I would listen to Vivaldi's double violin concerto in A minor endlessly. There was something so fiery and beautiful about the sounds I was hearing; I felt compelled to learn how to make sounds just like that.

I started violin when I was eight years old and found out how difficult learning an instrument could be. I wanted to emulate the sound of those recordings I had heard, but instead  sounded like nails on a chalkboard. Through the inspiration provided by of a host of incredible teachers and music idols, I gained the determination to  push through and learn the music I had set out to learn. 

Since those early years, I have gone on to experience so many great things in the music world. In 2013, I graduated from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with my Bachelor of Music Degree in Violin Performance. Since then I have been performing with a San Francisco based string quartet, Friction Quartet. Together we have performed and taught around the globe and have been lucky to meet lots of amazing people along the way.

This is my personal site for some of my other passions which include teaching and arranging. I love baking so maybe someday I'll post some recipes. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.


  • BM from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music

Things I've done


Coming Soon

My Philosophy

My teaching attitude is quite simple. Excitement leads to curiosity which leads to experimentation and finally growth. This is the process I explore in my own practice and I aim to replicate that for my students.


I teach students of all ages and skill levels. Some aspire to become professional musicians but most want to play as a hobby. No matter their skill, age or goals I want my students to make a deep connection to the music. I strive to create excitement when working on music so my students can become inspired to reach the goals they have set.


In my lessons I make sure that I am not only giving practical advice but actively teaching my students how to become their own teacher. I do not want to make any decisions for the student but rather with the student. I aim give the student tools to think like a teacher so that when they are practicing alone they can use their curiosity to guide them towards solutions that work for them.


I am not a believer in rigid systems for learning instruments. Each student has a unique personality, a unique range of interests and a unique way of using their bodies. To accommodate these differences I use a combination of different systems that I learn from when studying the violin. I experiment with my students to find what works and what doesn't.


This is the product of all of our hard work and experimentation. Growth will not be a steady stream. I do not expect any student to be perfect or practice a certain amount of hours every day. Everything can be done efficiently and effectively, the most important thing is to keep creatively trying. Growth only stops when giving up!


Beginning students will learn how to hold the instrument, how to hold the bow and where to put their fingers. I teach the skill of reading music with games and memorization techniques. The beginning student will learn diverse repertoire including music from the Suzuki system and music from around the world curated by me. Additionally if the student has repertoire requests those can be worked into the curriculum. The beginning student will also learn how to gain confidence in their playing. 

Intermediate students will learn more advanced posture ideas, borrowed from the systems of Alexander Technique. The student will begin to learn the art of memorization of repertoire and how to deal with stage fright. They will learn repertoire from around the world including short show pieces, sonatinas and concertinos. 

Advanced students or students looking towards a career in music will learn advanced scale and exercise systems. They will learn difficult repertoire from around the world including famous violin concertos, sonatas and solo repertoire. They will also be taught some practical advice from the perspective of a current touring classical musician. I can help them prepare for auditions, for life at conservatory and life as a travelling performer. 

All levels will learn from a set of exercises and etudes of corresponding difficulty. These resources include; Carl Flesch scale system, Yost shifting exercises, Ševčík exercises, Dounis exercises, Mazas etudes, Dont etudes, Kruezter etudes, Rode etudes, Galamian scale system and more. I try and pass the wisdom taught to me from my teachers, Wei He and Mark Sokol who in turn drew from their teachers, Camilla Wicks and Dorothy Delay.


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